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Is the metaverse good for business? Why blending the virtual and the real remains a matter of much debate

July 13, 2022, 9:37 AM UTC

Good morning.

There’ve been many conversations at Fortune Brainstorm Tech this week about the metaverse, virtual reality, and other digital interactions. Magic Leap even demonstrated its new augmented reality glasses, launching in September and designed for business use. But there is scarcely a person I’ve met who hasn’t commented on the value of in-person gatherings like the one taking place here. There is an energy and chemistry that leads to conversations and connections that simply don’t happen in the virtual world. As Arm CEO Rene Haas said on the Brainstorm stage: “There will never be any real replacement for in-face meetings.”

Still, how to best blend the virtual and the real remains a matter of much debate, particularly when it comes to office work. Dropbox CEO Drew Houston said the goal is to get the best of both worlds…or at the very least, avoid the worst. “If you require someone to commute a couple of hours to do a standup that could have been done on Zoom, that’s not going to work.” Houston has redesigned Dropbox’s offices to be a place for collaboration and social interaction. “Our primary orientation is remote,” he says, “but we also want to get people together in person.”

Qualtrics CEO Zig Serafin said he took a firmer view last year, when he asked his employees to return to the office three to four days a week. But now, he says the company has found there were “benefits to what people did when they were remote that we wanted to keep.” So they shifted, and workers spend, on average, only one to two days in the office a week.

Upwork CEO Hayden Brown, whose freelance platform business has always been remote, says she works with clients who are struggling to integrate remote and in person. “It is all about being intentional. You need to go team by team and figure out what is the level of face to face versus remote that works for them.” Author Erica Keswin was handing out copies of her book on “rituals,” which she argues are the key to creating workplace connection. What’s clear is while the debate is robust, it’s also far from over. 

By the way, for all the talk of recession, there was little evidence of it from the speakers at the conference. Flex CEO Revathi Advaithi, whose company manufacturers products for thousands of companies, told the group she has seen no slowdown in orders.  

You can find more from the conference here. Other news below.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com

TOP NEWS

Twitter vs. Musk

Twitter has sued Elon Musk over his attempt to pull out of the $44 billion takeover. The company says it needs less than a week of court time to prove Musk’s illegitimate actions—and will use 13 of the tycoon’s tweets against him. Fortune

Netflix ads

Netflix is reportedly in the process of renegotiating its programming deals so it can roll new and existing content out on a new, ad-supported version of the platform. Studios would want more money for that—apparently 15% to 30% more. Wall Street Journal

Celsius collapse

The FT has a great piece on the collapse of crypto lender Celsius, which was a major source of funding for decentralized finance projects. From the article: “Inside Celsius, there were misgivings. The company had dived into DeFi in 2020 feet first, without doing full diligence on the projects it was backing and without proper systems for tracking assets, according to former employees and internal documents.” Financial Times

Editor’s note: Apologies for yesterday failing to mention the Canadian Space Agency’s involvement in the James Webb Space Telescope project, alongside NASA and the European Space Agency. If any of you are in need of spectacular new desktop wallpaper, you can download the best of the telescope’s images from the CSA website here.

AROUND THE WATERCOOLER

An Omicron vaccine is coming. Should you wait for it—or get your next booster now amid BA.5’s surge? by Nicholas Gordon

Missing 3AC cofounder Su Zhu reappears on Twitter to break his silence and accuses the firm’s bankruptcy administrator of entrapment, by Christiaan Hetzner

Read Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s email to staff on plans to slow hiring after adding 10,000 employees in Q2: “We’re not immune to economic headwinds,” by Bloomberg

​​Gen Z and millennials feel they’ll never be able to afford what they want in life, by Jane Thier

Many people who join the Great Resignation regret it, and it means bosses can take back power, by Chloe Berger

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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